Live Oak Volume
  Dec 06, 2003 09:10 PST 

In a message dated 12/6/2003 10:47:55 AM Eastern Standard Time, writes:
Who says that one foot of circumference should be 12 times as important as
one foot of height and 48 times as important as one foot of average (not even
maximum) crown spread?
Bob & all,
I follow every thread. Though, initially, I was inclined to accept Will's
(to Bob's question) estimate of live oak volume (1,500 to 2000?). But, in
light of much discussion since, I wonder about this. Live oak is a climber's
dream. Rather than being upright, the scaffolds are mostly parallel with the
ground-this makes for easy limb-walking. The angles of the branches and the
thickness of the crown, make more some most interesting sculpting. No other tree
can be sculpted around structures with such elegance, and yet prove so

But getting back to my point. Probably no other tree get's as dense as live
oak. The oak that grow along the South's coast may be thick enough to
"snowshoe" across the canopy (though, I wouldn't try it!). Underneath those
leathery, evergreen leaves, tough enough to withstand centuries of sandblasting, are
numerous branches, limbs and twigs, which, for volume, are very large and
strong (maybe to hold up to the East's many hurricanes). But, my point is this.
If you have a 10 to 20 foot tall trunk, that's 10 to 12 feet in diameter (which
often get's larger the higher you measure), leading off with many scaffolds
(some 6 feet in diameter), to a crown that can exceed 170 feet, I just wonder,
if one were to meticulously measure the volume of most every scaffold, branch
and limb (excluding twigs), if there would not be as much, if not more volume,
than say a 10 to 12 foot diameter cylinder, close to 190 feet tall! For
those that have climbed live oaks much, they can tell you just how dense these
crowns can become.

Also, the later sapwood growth rings on older live oak trunks grow at a
slower rate than newer branch and limbs in the crown. What am I saying? A
relatively small trunk of live oak (none stronger), can support an amazing large
crown. I think we've focused so much on measuring huge conifer boles, that large,
spreading crowns may have been slighted, as it relates to points (AF) and
measuring volume. I have never measured volume. Am just a previous live oak
climber, making an uninformed observation. Am I terribly off base in this? If
there is good justification for Will and I to maybe climb a large live oak
(like the Middleton) and measure the complete volume?

To further make my point. Please find attached a 34kb JPEG image of the
Saint John the Divine Cathedral Oak in Lafayette, LA. Though an older, declining
tree, it has a relatively small trunk (8 or 9 feet in diameter?) compared to
several sizable scaffolds that extend a considerable distance from the tree.
One, you have to be amazed that such a small amount of trunk wood can support
such a huge crown, that has been buffeted by many hurricanes. Two, you have
wonder, if all those leads and branches were pulled back into one single
cylinder, if it would not be a greater volume. Please comment, all.

Live oak volume   Will Blozan
  Dec 06, 2003 09:40 PST 

Hopefully BVP will chime in on this one, too...

As massive as the limbs are, it takes an astonishing amount of limbs to
equal even a small section of fat trunk. Also, many limbs on hardwoods are
not cylindrical, and though may be 8' in "diameter" may only have 50-60% of
the volume of an 8' cylinder per given length. A limb of such dimensions
would soon diverge and split into smaller and smaller sections that are
rather insignificant to the entire volume (as in a small percentage). I
would agree that live oaks have massive amounts of limbs that may infact
out-weight the short trunk- no small feat in the arboreal world.

We will have to climb and find out!

Re: Live oak volume
  Dec 06, 2003 11:31 PST 
Will, Bob & all,
You may well be correct. Like you say, we will have to find out. The 8 ft
trunk (squared) of the Cathedral Oak is 64 cross-sectional feet. While a
couple leads may be as large as 6 feet, for argument sake, let's say that it has 8
leads averaging a modest 3 foot diameter, you have 3x3=9 9x8=72. So it may
well be possible to exceed the trunk cross-sectional area (64). The Cathedral
has numerous leads of almost cylinder proportions that extend a considerable
distance with at least 2 feet in diameter (held up by huge props). Also, many
live oak's diameter are twice the size just 10 or 20 feet off the ground (the
Cathedral may be triple).

After we've measured it, we may still come short of trunk volume, but I can't
think of another species that might challenge this theory. If a live oak was
11 feet at it's smallest girth, and 30 feet to the top of the lower crown
(where the huge leads spread out), within this round trunk, one might possibly
cut out a 10x10x30 foot section, which would possess 3,000 cubit feet, without
including any of the huge, spreading scaffolds. This has the appearance of
having a larger volume (just for the trunk), then the previous estimate of 2,000
(?) cubit feet of volume for the entire tree. If you took just the bottom 20
feet of the Middleton Oak, you could easily have 2,000 cubit feet. I know you
could say that a cylinder has less volume, but much of the trunk is larger
than d.b.h., if not twice as large. Which would push volume back towards 3,000
cubit feet. What am I missing here?
Re: Live oak volume   Colby Rucker
  Dec 06, 2003 14:34 PST 

Assigning diameters to theoretical trees doesn't get us anywhere. Some so-called champion live oaks have no trunk at all, and most are quite squatty. Some have flaring bases, some don't. A few carry a trunk to a modest height, but may be of indifferent diameter. So, if we're looking for a live oak with a significant volume, we have to refer to a specific specimen.

That said, the whole matter of volume quickly becomes apples and oranges. Typically, volume has been restricted to the main trunk of the tree. This follows the examples of exceptional board footage records for yellow poplar, American elm, shortleaf pine, white pine, white oak, and most of the western conifers. Such records were based on the merchantable portions of the main trunk, including multiple tops.

Wendell D. Flint set the standard in rating giant sequoias by volume. His measurements were limited to the entire main trunk above grade. He included the bark, and made no deductions for burns and hollows. He did not count roots, limbs or foliage. Van Pelt carried the definition a bit further, noting that coast redwoods often had numerous reiterations, which he included.

In the east, The Senator has been measured, including only the main trunk. Tuliptrees, hemlocks and white pines have been measured. Adding some percentage for limbs has been discussed, but adds little, and hypothetical values invalidate the more exact measurements. The Bushnell YP500 rangefinder has proved useful in measuring diameters at any height, providing a means to model trunks without climbing. This allows separate calculations of volume and board feet.

So, comparisons with The Senator are restricted to measurement of the main trunk, pretty much as viewed by a lumberman, except for adding the stump and the bark, and making no deduction for hollow logs. The squatty structure of live oaks is ill suited for such a comparison.

There's been some discussion about measuring the total volume of a tree - trunk, limbs, twigs, the works. Of course, it's hardly possible to measure a standing tree directly, but I explained how the volume of the Wye Oak could be estimated from large sections that fell and were weighed in their entirety, truck load by truck load, at a nearby feed mill. As I recall, the total came to 5,000 cubic feet. Until someone accurately weighs one of the largest live oaks in its entirety, we won't know the limits for the species.

By accepted volume standards for the main trunk, The Senator, at 4200 cubic feet, has no close competition in the east.

Re: Hgt, Cir, Spread or vice versa
  Dec 06, 2003 14:34 PST 


     Good history and good points as usual. You’re probably right about the compromise formula being here to stay. But as you correctly observe, there can be other lists and there can also be other formulas and/or other weights.

     In ENTS, we use sines, cosines, and tangents to calculate tree heights. We devise methods to arrive at dubious measures like average crown spread, which BTW, can be done with greater precision by circling the tree and taking 8 or more measurements of crown extension. Will and I worked out two pretty fair methods for doing this with lasers and clinometers that would approximate the average crown spread by measuring the horizontal projections of the longest limbs within sectors with my method and the longest spreads in Wills. I think Will and Michael Davie did some experiments shooting across from one to the other, rotating, and shooting again, etc. My method treats the trunk like the hub of a wheel and the limbs as spokes, but not with opposite spokes. I’m always shooting to the trunk. Thus, my average for the crown spread becomes the average spoke length x 2. Will’s method may be better, but requires two people.

     Although I too have traditionally downplayed crown spread as the least important of the 3 measurements, and being redundant of circumference, in the case of the large spreading live oaks that we’ve been seeing in the images, I'm much less confident. It seems that spread need to play a larger role for trees that put so much energy into creating massive limbs structures. I’m reminded of the very different proportions of the limbs of open grown sugar maples as opposed to the oaks as a group and especially the live oaks. The sugar maple’s limbs narrow down rapidly. They actually look disproportionately small just a few yards from the trunk relative to the overall size of the tree. The white ash’s limb dimensions suffer similarly.

    Maybe it is time we shift some of our focus from trunk to limbs, at least for a while, until we’ve developed better species profiles and determined if there are substantial differences between open grown hardwood species in terms of how much wood goes into limbs versus the trunks. This is where the arborists among us should shine.

Quercus humungus among us
  Dec 06, 2003 16:13 PST 


   Maybe I've gone off the deep end with respect to the huge live oaks that Randy Cyr and Will Fell have been showing us. If so, please, someone tell me. However, it seems from several of the photographs that the proportion of wood has shifted from an overwhelming dominance of the trunk below the point of major branching to a significantly higher percentage in the limbs. Maybe it's time for me to get new glasses, but if what appears to be the case in the photographs holds, it raises lots of potentially interesting questions about the relative proportions of limb versus trunk wood among the species. The can't proportions can't all be the same, can they? If large limbs grow outward then drop to the ground, take root, gain support and grow back upward again, isn't it reasonable to assume that there's an opportunity for more wood to accumulate in that kind of structure than in upward-point limbs? Or might it actually be similar? Some genetic thing. Well, my eyes tell me that different species have different proportions. Limb shapes aren't uniform among the species.

   Let's face it, a lot of limbs are fairly inaccessible to measure unless a tree is cut down. How many felled trees are meticulously measured to develop a database of proportions for different species?    

   I hope Will can break free and team up with Randy to measure the pizzazers out of one of the huge live oaks. Then we can take some smaller hardwoods and model them just to see how the percentage of wood in limbs versus the trunk varies.

Re: Live oak volume
  Dec 06, 2003 17:35 PST 
In a message dated 12/6/2003 5:34:52 PM Eastern Standard Time,
...Assigning diameters to theoretical trees doesn't get us anywhere...
I don't "assign" anything. If a prod is needed for us to face reality, then
so be it. The dimensions I gave were based upon the Middleton Oak of
Charleston, S.C. and the Cathedral Oak of Lafayette, LA (which I mentioned several
times). Some of the other's comments have been based upon actual tree images
that I e-mailed them. The Middleton Oak image has dozens of people standing
around, under and even climbing the trunk. It really does exist outside of
hypothetical theories. I can't help it if live oaks in other areas of the Country
are less than impressive. I live 3 hours from Charleston and have never had
any affliation with their mayor or interest in promoting tourism there.     

...Such records were based on the merchantable portions of the main trunk,
including multiple tops...

For a century, many of the gulf's live oaks were harvested to build ships
(many were warships), which were not only merchandise, but were used to transport
merchandise. The large scaffold's are comparable to "multiple tops" of the
East's upright trees and coast redwood's numerous reiterations (though, much
smaller), they only grow horizontally in the open to deflect hurricane-force
winds. These scaffold's proved most useful in shipbuilding.

...Tuliptrees, hemlocks and white pines have been measured. Adding some
percentage for limbs has been discussed, but adds little, and hypothetical values
invalidate the more exact measurements...

Maybe they add little to upright forest trees, but if live oaks are
"squatty", then much of the tree is beyond this point (just comparing apples with

...Until someone accurately weighs one of the largest live oaks in its
entirety, we won't know the limits for the species...

I beg to differ, Sir. As I imagine would Bob and Will. We don't have to
wait until one of these "squatty" trees fail, or rely on a laser's one meter
accuracy, to know approximately how much volume there is in a given tree. Will
and I can physically climb the tree, and record the necessary data for Bob and
others to come up with an approximate volume (as I understand it, it was upon
such challenges that ENTS was birthed).

...By accepted volume standards for the main trunk, The Senator, at 4200
cubic feet, has no close competition in the east...

That may well be true. But I wouldn't bet my life on it. The Senator does
not have much else but "a main trunk" (I have numerous JPEG's images & a role
of 35mm film to prove it). And from what Will tells me, much of that is
"hollow". I doubt there is any hollow in the very healthy and sound Middleton Oak.
A broader audience may want to know just how much volume there is in a given
species (excluding roots, leaves, twigs, galls, burls, resurrection fern,
Spanish moss, cicadas, tree crickets & "so-called" champion tree plaques). My
images are already out there. I know from personal observation that there exists
10-foot plus diameter, 20-foot tall live oak trunks. That fact is
incontestable. With basal and crown flare, the volume will likely exceed 2,000 cubic
feet. Since open grown live oaks grow mostly horizontal, "MOST" of the volume
will be above this point (whether this fits into a stricter interpretation or
not). Let's go climb a tree and settle any argument. Or are we bound by
tradition? I was under the impression that this organization pushes the envelop
(rather than getting left behind holding the bag).

RE: Live oak volume   Will Blozan
  Dec 06, 2003 17:43 PST 

A cylinder 15' in diameter 20' long would have 3535.4 cubic feet, equivalent
to nearly five cylinders 7.5 feet in diameter (one half the 15' diameter).
As you can see, volume decreases rapidly with diameter. You would need a
cylinder nearly 8 feet in diameter and 20' long to get 1000 ft3. Reduce the
diameter to 6 feet and you have lost almost half the volume (565 ft3).

Hard thing is, trees are not cylinders nor do they have parallel sides. We
make adjustments in our volume calculations to account for this. A complex
hardwood like a live oak would be an intense challenge to model. Sinuous
ridges and furrows, curves and elbows all make the models and calculations a
PITA, but presents a challenge that needs to be undertaken.

  Dec 07, 2003 07:50 PST 


A few comments on the South Carolina live oaks, modeling them, looking for improvements in tree comparison formulas, and continuing the ENTS mission of site documentation. In a word, this is what we do. We need not be apologetic about it. We're not American Forests nor do we want to be. But who says that AF or any other organization, including ourselves, has a monoply on tree knowledge or interest in big trees? We can respect the efforts of others on tree comparisons, development of champion tree formulas, champion tree lists and the likes, but we shouldn't stiffle ourselves by fearing that we're violating some sacred trust or covenent if we experiment with what is obviously an already weighted, heavily compromised comparison method. What's the big deal? We're not saying the others should adopt our comparison methods. We're not planning to publish an alternative big tree register. We've never seen ENTS as in competition with either AF or the states. Some of us just want to experiment with different weights to achieve an order among large trees that we know either locally, regionally, or eastern wide. So long as we keep that limited purpose in mind, we won't lose perspective on our role. We won't get too big for our britches.

   Will Blozan, and several others of us have wanted ENTS to function as a behind the scenes support structure for both the national and state champion tree programs. That has not changed. In fact, we now have some daylight with the state programs and hope to make the support mission a big one. I am increasingly optimistic that our message will get through.

   Newcomers may get surprised at some of the tones on the list. At times folks get a little testy over an issue, but all in all the ENTS list is pretty tame. We tested the limits of contentiousness in the forestry debates and taht was okay. We discussed some valid issues and problems, but we're not a professional forestry organization. There is a limit to how far we should go in exploring pure forestry issues. Other lists are more appropriate for that where heavy and prolonged concentation on an issue is appropriate. But for us, every thread we begin can't be allowed to end up as a repetitive rant about high grading and forestry licensing in Massachusetts. We did lose list members over that nonsense and it won't happen again.

   However, tree measuring is our issue and will continue to be the subject of many e-mail conversations and differences of opinion are welcome - but, with respect to measurement methods, it isn't a case of everybody's approach being equally valid. As Russ Richardson correctly recognized, we're taking thwe art and science of tree measuring to a new level in the East. That is what ENTS is all about. Who's ready to model a live oak?

Re: Volume
  Dec 07, 2003 08:30 PST 

I am including a table from a chapter I wrote for a book called Forest Canopies
that will be coming out in Spring.

Our canopy sampling protocol, which is the subject of the chapter, includes
methods for structurally mapping ANY tree - even banyans. The
three-dimensional data sets include information on volume (of everything -
including branches and twigs) and also surface area.

As can be seen from the table, tall forest grown trees such as Doug firs or
Eucalypts have about 8-10 percent of their volume in branches.

The Tane Mahuta (the southern hemisphere's largest tree), a tree with a vast
crown, has about 38 percent of the total volume in branches. A giant tulip
such as the Mill Creek Monster might have 12-15 percent branch volume. Some of the live oaks are nearing 100 percent.

Regardless of the percentage, the branches are difficult to measure and nearly
impossible to model.

If this is attempted on any of these trees, I will be all over the opportunity
- I will bring my harness, equipment and can design a sampling protocol.

Re: Live oak volume (Middleton Oak directions & map link)
  Dec 07, 2003 09:32 PST 
In a message dated 12/7/2003 11:13:28 AM Eastern Standard Time, writes:
...can you give me a location so that, on my own time, I can check it/them
Middleton Place in about 14 miles NW of Charleston, at 4300 Ashley River
Road. There'll be a gate charge (unless, of course, it's in their PR interest to
allow free entry). It's a huge plantation. Most people are interested in the
East's oldest formal gardens. If you ask where the largest oaks are, they're
liable to say, "They're everywhere." Which is so true. The Middleton Oak is
straight to the back, near the Ashley River. After reaching the Middleton,
if you follow the river downstream and flank towards the right, you'll
encounter several oaks in front of and behind the many old buildings and farmyard.
While most plantation seekers head to Boone Plantation (the site of many films &
an impressive "oak alley"), this place has larger live oaks, as does other
plantations along the Ashley River Rd (Hwy 61). In fact, there are plantations
every few miles along this road. If you make it to the Middleton, you might
as well go a few miles down the road to Magnolia Plantation at 3550 Ashley
River Rd. The oaks aren't quite as large, but Magnolia has the Audubon Swamp
Garden, unlike anything I've ever seen. Here is an impressive collection of huge
sweet gums and bald cypress, with white bridges over the watercourses and
plenty of alligators underneath (they're even occasionally seen in winter!). If
you go in the spring, you might want to catch the azalea peak bloom (absolutely
fabulous and a photographer's paradise). Below is a map link.
Re: Live oak volume (Middleton Oak)
  Dec 08, 2003 12:31 PST 
Will, Bob, Bob & others,
I just got off the phone with Middleton Place's PR person (David) and TCI
Magazine's editor (Mark). They both expressed interest. We will need to fill in
the blanks for a commitment. Not only are we seeking permission to climb &
measure their oak, but free admittance and lodging for 2 days. You gentlemen
must have an idea by now of what we propose to accomplish.   In addition to
what we've already discussed, I propose we look for a 1 day, 2 night window in
mid-January. We're looking for a dry, windless day of at least 60 degree F. We
would check-in (hopefully at the Plantation) the night before, spend the
entire day measuring (and coring, if they allow), spend the night, and leave the
next day. The model would be worked out in the next few months. Besides
involving TCI, Middleton may bring in some local media, and we also should consider doing a paper (the Journal of Arboriculture may want to publish it).

What I, David and Mark need from you is more details and concerns addressed.
Here are some potential questions that we could address in our discussion.
Who will be involved? What are their credentials? What will become of our
findings? Will the Middleton Oak be damaged? Will the work area need to be
roped-off?   Will it require security?   Should we invite the public?   Will we
sign an appropriate waiver should anyone get hurt?   Is this strictly a nonprofit
venture?   What will such a model mean to the rest of the country?   Will our
findings be authoritative?   Do we need to bring in Clemson, or someone like
Dr. Tom Smiley with Bartlett? What about our own scientists? Should
biomechanics and loading factors be a consideration? How many climbers do we need?
Since BVP is coming across the country, what month or days of the week favor
his schedule? Please forward within the next few days so I can get back with
David & Mark.
Thank you for your attention,    
Re: Live oak volume (Middleton Oak)
  Dec 08, 2003 17:03 PST 


     Good work. Looks like the project is rolling. I regret to say that I won't be able to attend due to my dear wife's medical condition. Will Blozan is the president of ENTS and therefore the official ENTS voice for this project. However, I'll provide preliminary input on some of the questions to help get the ball rolling.

Question: What are their credentials?
Answer: In terms of tree measuring, ENTS credentials and accomplishments speak for themselves. The folks at the Plantation are invited to visit the ENTS website at As evidence of ENTS's broad acceptance, we cite the following:

1. ENTS has a special research permit from the GSMNP to measure and document forests there in a research capacity. The value of ENTS input is recognized by the Park.

2. ENTS offers periodic workshops for tree measurers. The workshops are co-sponsored by Cook Forest State Park, PA, and Mohawk Trail State Forest, MA.

3. ENTS is a principal co-sponsor of old growth forest conferences that are attended by many prestigeous colleges and environmental and forestry organizations. Specific conferences can be listed if desired.

4. ENTS is currently developing a guide for measuring champion trees for the champion tree program for the state of Georgia.

5. ENTS is a forest research partner of the Forest Stewards Guild.

The qualifications of the two principal designers for the proposed project follow:

            Dr. Bob Van Pelt at the University of Washington is one of the foremost scientists in the world studying and mapping forest canopies and determining tree volumes. In addition, Dr. Van Pelt is an author and the coordinator of the champion tree program for the state of Washington.

Will Blozan, the ENTS president is a certified arborist and former science technican with the GSMNP. Will has a widely recognized reputation as a tree measurer. He has been featured in articles, on T.V., and on radio. Will is a co-author of "Stalking The Forest Monarchs - A Guide To Measuring Champion Trees". He has climbed and measured the tallest or among the tallest trees in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

A sample of the credentials and accomplishments of other ENTS members are offered to put the organization into perspective.

Dr. Lee Frelich, the ENTS VP, is the Director of the Center for Hardwood Ecology at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Frelich is ENTS's principal research scientist and is presently developing the protocal for an eastern-wide study of maximum growth potential for selected species.

Dr. David Stahle, an ENTS co-founder, is the Director of the Tree Ring Laboratory at the University of Arkansas.

Dr. Tom Diggins is the principal research scientist studying Zoar Valley old growth in NY.

Professor Gary Beluzo is one of two individuals responsible for the old growth inventory, mapping, and documentation for DCR in Massachusetts. Robert Leverett is the other.

Dale Luthringer, the naturalist and educational director for Cook Forest State Park, PA, runs the ENTS workshop for tree measuring.

Colby Rucker and Robert Leverett are members of a select committee of American Forests to study and revise rules for measuring champion trees.

I'll stop at this point, but the list can be expanded if need be.

Question: Is this strictly a nonprofit venture?
Answer: Yes. ENTS is an nonprofit organization.
Question: What will such a model mean to the rest of the country?
Answer: With respect to the whole counttry, this question can probably best be answered by Bob Van Pelt and Lee Frelich. In terms of the East alone. I'll put in my two cents worth in the next couple of days. I'm sure those who plan to attend will do likewise. However, I would like to encourage all ENTS members to feel free to provide input on this question, especially the PhDs on the list, since they are the heart of our research efforts.
Question: Will our findings be authoritative?
Answer: There will be none more authoritative, if BVP is involved. Without BVP, the effort would be the best determination made and authoritative to that extent. BVP brings the highest level of expertise available.
Question: Do we need to bring in Clemson, or someone like Dr. Tom Smiley with Bartlett?
Answer: This is potentially a touchy issue. If BVP shouldn't be able to make it to SC and they would like to participate in developing a model, then their participation, in a support role, could be highly valuable to the project. If BVP makes it, then they are not needed unless BVP and/or Will Blozan wants them, since BVP would develop the measurement protocal. If they specifically ask to be involved, I presume we would want to extend the invitation to them. I can't think of a good reason not to do that.
Question: What about our own scientists?
Answer: BVP is the most important scientist for this project and he is a lifetime honarary member of ENTS. It would be splendid if other scientists could join the effort. Lee Frelich and Tom Diggins would be welcome additions. There are other scientists on the list including Charlie Cogbill, David Stahle, Neil Pederson, Larry Winship, Alan White, to name a few. They'll have to speak for themselves. However, BVP is the key individual for the particular project at hand. Canopy mapping research is not only what Bob does, but what he pioneers.
Question: Should biomechanics and loading factors be a consideration?
Answer: If this stays a volume determination, I'm not sure why we would expand into loading factors unless we're trying to determine theoretical limits to structures. Others may see it differently. It's BVP's and Will's call.
Today Middleton, tomorrow?
   Dec 10, 2003 17:26 PST 

These are exciting times for ENTS. The importance of the Middleton Oak project to us isn't just in the mapping of this one great tree, but in the imagination that both tree and project stimulates. Today's eastern trees and forests have been significantly diminished in the minds of amateur and professional alike by the accounts of great trees of yesteryear and the common sight of degraded forests. However, for those of us who are taking the time to look, we are finding many fabulous eastern trees alive today that are worth measuring, studying, and mapping. We have individual trees and forest remnants waiting to be discovered and documented for our present day satisfaction and for posterity.
It is not beating a dead horse to emphasize that the enjoyment or study of big trees does not fall within the province of any single profession or individual background. ENTS, as an organization, and individual members have a legitimate role in the compilation of tree lists, the development of volume models, and extending the eye of science. All this is our focus and has been all along, but the Middleton Oak adds a touch of real class. Spanish moss and gargantuan limbs extended for 70 feet and more have power to energize a collective imagination and keep us out of the rut we sometimes get in fretting over big tree rating systems.
   How big is the Middleton Oak? I have no idea, but it is big enough to warrant the attention we plan to give it, and after the Middleton Oak, then maybe the Mill Creek Monster or another giant Smoky Mountain tuliptree. The data coming from big tree modeling projects will find its way onto the radar screens of more and more foresters, arborists, and ecologists. It will happen. Of course, it won't be a first. The big tree of the Pacific Northwest can never be looked upon again as just convenient blocks of potential lumber. They are so much more. Maybe the eastern trees aren't in the league of their Pacific cousins, but it is time to take a much closer look at the eastern giants, not only for their volumes but for the habitat they provide for above the forest floor and the development of forest processes that are not evident from the forest floor.

    The Middleton Oak and other live oak giants of the Southeast may help us to recapture the mystery of great trees. The shapes of these oaks jar us out of teh well-behaved timber model- the kiss of death to imagination. And to think that they've been there all along, they just weren't on our radar scope. Now why is that? Oh, I'm being naughty.